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Sounders to meet Dallas in U.S. Cup semis

TUKWILA -- Sounders FC is pursuing history in another deep U.S. Open Cup run.

Well, more history.

Last year, Seattle became the first back-to-back winner of the 97-year-old knockout-style tournament in the MLS era.

And now?

"We want to accomplish something that no MLS team has done by winning three in a row," said coach Sigi Schmid, whose team hosts FC Dallas in an Open Cup semifinal at 7 p.m. today at Starfire Stadium.

"Any time we can make an achievement that sets us apart, it's important to our club," Schmid added.

The match concludes a laborious six-game stretch over 18 days, but is arguably the most important due to its do-or-die nature.

"In other games, league games, you could hopefully rebound from it the next weekend," said defender Jeff Parke, "but here it's you lose, you're done. Then you look back and say, 'What happened? I wish we were still in the tournament.' "

Sounders FC would host the Oct. 4 championship game at CenturyLink Field for a second-straight year if it beats Dallas. Seattle submitted a winning bid to U.S. Soccer for the right to host, beating out both the Chicago Fire and Richmond Kickers of the USL-Pro league, who face off in the other semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Schmid said the chance to host another final should be a great motivator, especially for those who remember last year's celebration after a 2-1 victory against the Columbus Crew in front of 31,311 frenzied home fans.

FC Dallas will also be driven to perform. Since 1999, the full name of the tournament has been the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, in honor of the American soccer pioneer and original owner of FC Dallas.

Though with a trophy on the line, inspiration shouldn't be hard to come by.

"At the end of the day, you look back on the history on a club and it's the silverware and the championships -- those are the things that tell you that you've built a good club," said Parke. "History is everything."

Seattle has won four straight and confidence is soaring. The Sounders are undefeated in August (6-0-1), have never lost at Starfire Stadium and are 8-0-2 in their past 10 home games in all competitions.

"I'm always that little, quiet pessimist that's always a little bit worried of overconfidence," said goalkeeper Kasey Keller. "I just want us to come out with a great attitude."

Notes: Federal Way native Lamar Neagle has been named MLS player of the week for his three-goal performance in Seattle's 6-2 win Saturday against Columbus. The 24-year-old midfielder is the second player in franchise history to record a hat trick and the fourth Sounder to win the honor this season (Jeff Parke, Week 10; Fredy Montero, Week 17; Mauro Rosales, Week 18).

Defender Patrick Ianni (hamstring) is "ready to go," according to Schmid. Midfielder Mike Seamon (ankle) and goalkeeper Terry Boss (international duty) are unavailable.

The game will be streamed live on SoundersFC.com.

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